Halloween celebrations are pushing ahead this weekend with children across Ireland eager to dress up and get out and about on Sunday night following last year's cancellation of festivities. Despite the high Covid-19 incidence rate among five to 12 year olds, health officials have reassured parents that trick-or-treating can be enjoyed safely by taking some simple precautions.
So, what are people’s main concerns?
My kids are super excited about tomorrow’s trick-or-treating but I’m slightly nervous about all the close contacts and visits to different houses. What can I do to keep my family and other families safe?
Don’t worry, there’s a few easy steps you can take on Halloween to ensure your kids have a brilliant evening while staying safe.
Firstly, all trick-or-treating should be outdoors – chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has urged people to step outside when distributing treats and snacks.
Keep trick-or-treat groups small, limited to one or two families.
Make sure your children know they should avoid large groups of kids gathering on doorsteps.
Parents and trick-or-treaters should carry plenty of hand sanitiser and wash/clean hands as often as possible through the evening.
If your child is displaying any flu-like symptoms, such as a dry cough, fever, tiredness or a sore throat, they will need to stay home. Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said this week that while people could “do the things they normally do at Halloween”, a sick child should not mix with other children. This is not only to prevent the spread of Covid but also to avoid getting the flu.
What about masks, should my kids be wearing them during trick-or-treating?
Masks are a really easy way to keep your kid extra safe on Halloween night. Try incorporating a cloth mask into your child’s costume, it will add to their overall look and put your mind at ease when they’re running around with other kids.
Our neighbours have invited us into their home, is it okay to visit?
If you’re having visitors over, keep a couple of windows open, make sure there is plenty of hand sanitiser and ensure people keep their distance from one another. However, meeting outdoors is a much safer way to gather this Halloween where the virus is far less likely to spread.
What about those of us handing out treats from our door, what can we do to limit exposure?
Make sure you wear a mask through the evening while handing out treats and keep a distance between the children outside your door and yourself. Also, keep washing your hands through the evening.
What about parties? My teenagers are going to be hanging out with lots of friends this weekend.
If your teenagers are vaccinated they have already taken the most important step in protecting themselves from the virus. Dr Holohan has advised people to avoid crowded parties but if you’re a teenager who has been cut off from friends through numerous lockdowns and dying to catch up on months of missed nights out, that’s easier said that done.
Try speaking to them before they go out, offering a gentle reminder that the virus is still a real risk and spreading across the community. They’ll still go out and meet friends but they might just be a little more careful.